Haunted Mansion
The Bride

When I was a kid, I'd watch someone like Red Foxx or Buddy Hackett on TV, and wonder how they ever got famous. I'd heard they were hilarious comedians - what was I seeing? My parents would tell me that what I was seeing wasn't their real schtick, but a version so watered down and diluted by censors that they were a ghost of their normal selves.

Eddie Murphy is our Buddy Hackett. I'm going to be explaining to my kids that yes, this was a truly funny guy once upon a time, before money, fame and bad scripts got a stranglehold on him. His latest bomb is directly related to tonight's toy review - The Haunted Mansion.

Disney decided to take its two most famous rides (okay, there's Space Mountain as well, but let's hope that never sees a film version) and turn them into movies. It was a really wild concept, but in the case of Pirates of the Caribbean it paid off. That was due largely to the excellent work by Johnny Depp in the lead role.

The Haunted Mansion film didn't fair as well, and how much that is due to Murphy, or just a plain dopey script, is up to you to decide. But the Haunted Mansion concept has gotten a whole new set of toys as well, tied to both the ride and the film.

The actual figures and bases are based on the ride, but the packaging is clearly intended to remind you of the film. I believe there are five sets in the current line, each running $15. There's the Bride of course, the Skeleton, the Caretaker (gravedigger), the Mariner, the Traveler, and the Fat Little Guy.  Okay, so he's not called the Fat Little Guy, but I don't remember the exact name, and that pretty much describes him.  

I believe you can only find them at one of the Disney parks at this point, but perhaps they'll make an appearance at the Disney stores as well with the movie coming out on DVD. Tonight's review will cover 'The Bride' - I know, the title got you all excited about Kill Bill.

Packaging - ***
The box is perhaps the best thing about this set, and it's not that great. You can see all the contents nicely, but the box is a little weak and prone to shelf damage.

Sculpting - **1/2
Let's all get in our time machine and travel back 15 years. This set fits right in with the rest of the stuff on the shelf. Unfortunately for Disney, and fortunately for kids and collectors alike, the quality of all toys has great improved since then.

The work on the figure itself is middling. The detail work on the dress isn't bad, but the head and hands are poor, with little detail and worse scale. Remember the 'man hands' Seinfield episode? That's the Bride. Even the source material, as dated as it is, isn't this plain and boring. Yes, the source material isn't the most up to date, but even the designs for the film were brought into the 21st century.

The accessories all sport this same basic, dull, outdated toyish appearance. Even toys like the Power Rangers have long since left this type of simplistic, cheesy style behind.

There are actually some cloth pieces here as well, most notably her veil.  It's firmly attached to her large noggin', and drapes nicely over her face.

Paint - **
Sloppy with a side order of goofy colors seems to be the special of the day. The Bride is given a dirty wash on her dress that works fairly well, but the small details are very hit or miss, and the work on the accessories is pre-1995 again. Weird color choices go along with the sloppy work to make a rather visually unappealing mix.
The back of the playset is a sticker, and is fairly basic in its design and execution.

The worst of the work is on the stack of books, where it looks like a customizer after a case of Red Bull did the work.

An annoyance to me is the matching of the color and wash between her big hair and her dress.  While I know she's supposed to be all white, was it really necessary to make these two pieces look identical, although one is supposed to be hair and the other cloth?

Articulation - **
What's here has little value, so she ends up being more of a statue than just a count of points might indicate. She had neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist, hips and knees. The dress makes the hips and knees pretty useless though, and they even make it harder to get her to stand without the base. They'd have been better off going with no articulation in the legs - or better yet, just a solid lower body - than try to put jointed legs on the poor girl.

The upper body articulation is also fairly useless, since the sculpt doesn't allow for much range of movement.  Still, she's got more joints than I expected.

Accessories - **1/2
She might not look great, but at least she's well outfitted.  There's a total of 6 accessories PLUS her base, which isn't bad for a figure in this scale.

The floor of the base has two textures to it - stone and wood.  The detail work on the wood is surprisingly good considering the rest of the set, but overall the base is extremely plain.  Each of the figures comes with a piece of the Mansion, and this is one of the less appealing ones.

There's also a trunk that opens, a stack of books, a chest of drawers (and all three drawers open), and a pseudo Jack in the Box.  I believe it's actually a floating head, but since they had to use a spring to get that effect, he looks more like a weird ghost in the box.  This box has a lid that is designed to close and pop open - too bad that feature is almost impossible to get to work.  The latch is very cheap, and on mine doesn't line up properly to get it to work.

There are also two accessories she can hold - a bouquet, ready to be tossed to the lovely bridesmaids, and a torch.  Both have very fat, oversized centers to allow Miss Big Mitts to hold on to them.  They are also made of a much softer rubber.

Action Feature - **1/2
Yes, she even has an action feature - her chest lights up! It works well, fits the character, but has no battery replacement that I can see, so it's a short lived feature.

Fun Factor - *1/2
These are weird toys.  Are they designed for kids?  They certainly look like it, but how many kids will be clamoring for figures based on a ride they think is lame?  Let's face it, nostalgia drives the survival of dark rides like Haunted Mansion.

But is it for adult fans of the ride?  Can't be, since the style and design are so silly.  Leave it to Disney to try for both groups and hit neither.

Value - *
Fifteen bucks?  You have to be kidding me.  I bought this just to do a review - this is one of those bullets I take for my readers.  I picked the bride because she had almost the most accessories of any set, plus and action feature. At ten bucks I might not feel too bad, but at $15, I feel utterly stiffed.  

Overall - *1/2
I'm not sure who will buy these.  I can't imagine kids being all that interested, although a couple of the sets are more visually interesting than the Bride.  And while I'm sure some adult fans of the ride will buy them, I think they'll be disappointed if they compare them to any other current action figure line...that's not made by Jakk's.

I had a tough time coming up with a final rating for this figure. I waffled around - is it two stars?  But if I give this two stars, how can I ever give anything from companies like Mezco, NECA, Palisades, or Mcfarlane anything less than three?  At the end of the day, this simply doesn't stack up against the rest of the market, especially at such a ridiculous mark up.

Where to Buy - 
I've only heard of these at Disney parks so far, but perhaps with the release of the DVD, we'll see some of them at the Disney stores as well.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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